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China plants trees around Beijing to preserve water

Updated: Mar 12,2015 2:50 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING — China has planted 500,000 mu (about 33,000 hectares) of forest since 2009 to protect water along the border between its capital city, Beijing, and adjacent Hebei province, said the State Forestry Administration on March 12, the 37th national Tree-planting Day.

The trees have mainly been planted around the reservoirs of Miyun and Guanting, two of four main reservoirs that provide fresh water to the cosmopolitan city.

The move has effectively reduced sediment inflow to the reservoirs, according to the administration.

Thanks to the tree-planting project, the forest coverage rate in the upstream areas of the two reservoirs reached 33.4 percent by 2011, higher than the national average of 21.6 percent.

Beijing is facing a severe water shortage. The city is short of 1.5 billion cubic meters of water every year, said Beijing vice mayor Li Shixiang during the annual sessions of the country’s top legislature and top political advisory body this year.

“Beijing cannot solve the problem by itself, and a solution can only be worked out with a plan for the greater Beijing region. Coordinated development in Beijing and neighboring Tianjin Municipality and Hebei province is imperative,” said Li.

With a population of 21.52 million people in 2014, Beijing aims to keep its population under 23 million by 2020 as it is confronted with water and other resource shortages.

A south-to-north water diversion project was also part of efforts to quench China’s thirsty north. Water from a tributary of the Yangtze River has flowed about 1,200 km to Beijing since Dec 27 last year.